The¬†general¬†consensus around Monday’s victory against the Miami Dolphins is that our offense has picked up where it left off last¬†year¬†in it’s mid-season form already, and Tom Brady seems to mature with age like my¬†Granddad’s¬†bourbon that has been sitting in the cupboard for as long as I can remember! His 517 yards was a career and team high and iced the cake with 4 TDs, one of which went 99 yards. However Patriots Nation do not seem to be satisfied with the 488 yards allowed to the Henne lead Dolphin offense. I have heard numerous people say we didn’t rush the passer very well and we didn’t cover at all. Well I think when we go back and look at the stats a bit more in depth, some of you may change your minds.
The Dolphins accumulated 213 yards in the final 8:48 of the game and it’s important to point out that we had a 14 point lead at that point. The Patriots were very much in ‘prevent’ mode at the time and were allowing¬†Henne¬†the short throws underneath, as you do in that situation. When you take that away from¬†the¬†total yardage, it brings you down to 275 yards.Then take into account the opening drive; they opened up on their 16 yard line and drove all the way for a TD in 12 plays and over 7 minutes. Take that 84 yards away and you have 191 yards. So in theory, roughly 3 quarters separated the first score and the final 8 minutes in which the Pats only allowed that yardage.
In between the first drive and the final 8:48, the Dolphins had 8 series which¬†totaled¬†33 snaps (an average of just over 4 snaps a series) and half of those 8 series were 3&out holds by the New England defense. That brings me to third down conversions on the night which saw the¬†Dolphins¬†go a pitiful 2/14; they didn’t convert a single third down in the second half, but did have a handful of fourth down conversions afterwards. The important thing to¬†point¬†out is that they were getting the Dolphins into these¬†third¬†down situations. This is a huge stat considering the Patriots ranked dead last in the league in terms of¬†third¬†down conversions allowed on defense last season.
I’m also going to look at the points scored in the time lapse I am¬†focusing¬†on. Miami put 10 points on us in that time. The one TD scored was a converted turnover after a Brady interception, which saw the Dolphins get the ball on the New England 9 yard line. An easy situation by a long distance for them to convert. Some may argue the Patriots could have got the stop but if that wasn’t enough for you, they made two goal line stops from the one yard line in the second half.
Someone¬†also mentioned to me that the Patriots gave up quite a high 98 yards rushing. ¬†I’m going to tie this point in with one of my key factors of the game plan, which was to contain Reggie Bush. Only 38 of those rushing yards came from Bush (and 39 total from Running Backs) ¬†meaning he averaged just 3.5 yards a carry.¬†whilst¬†he did have some success in the receiving game, he averaged 6.2 yards which, considering the threat Bush posed, is a good achievement. 59 of the¬†rushing¬†yards came from Henne scrambling ouit of the pocket under pressure and one QB draw which led to a TD. This does¬†show¬†they need to learn how to¬†keep¬†track of the QB.
The Patriots job on defense was to ‘contain’ and that is the style of defense they played for much of the game. They blitzed only 26.7% of the time; that figure¬†includes¬†Henne drop backs and blitzes against the run. Despite that pretty low number the Pats got 4 sacks and pressured Henne a total of 35 times; a considerably high number. They consistently collapsed the pocket and got hits on Henne, who had a stellar game considering the circumstances. The stats show the Patriots main aim was to contain Reggie Bush, and considering his average yardage I would say they did a pretty good job. He didn’t break out for a long gainer once (I class a long gainer as 20+ yards).
That does lead me to talk about the number of plays of 20+¬†yards¬†however. We gave¬†away¬† total of nine of those plays and whilst¬†none of them were to Bush, they need to pay attention to stopping that big play ability down field, especially with the likes of ¬†San Diego who we open up our home campaign to on Sunday!
I’m not a complete homer; I just acknowledged we had coverage issues down field. With a new and extremely young¬†secondary, it’s going to take a little time. However the pass rushing was more than adequate as was the defense as a whole.¬†Statistics¬†don’t lie. Simple facts. Sometimes they don’t tell the whole¬†story¬†(such as the 488 total yards allowed) which is why people like myself like to dig a little deeper into them.
So what is the story? We started slow and its never nice to see a long 12 play, 84 yard, 7+ minute drive on your team. However we picked the tempo up from there. You could argue the offense didn’t capitalise enough on the¬†opportunities¬†it had and left points on the field after numerous stops by our defense. The Dolphins got a lucky break on a deflected ball and good field position which kept them in the game briefly, before we ran away with the 14 point lead. At this point the Pats went into their usual conservative mode. I’m not saying I like it; I have always said ‘prevent defense prevents nothing’ ¬†and it didn’t, allowing the Dolphins to seriously pad their stats chasing a two score¬†deficit. However I’ll live with it.
Therefore I would be¬†extremely¬†confident in this defense’s ability,¬†especially¬†as it is¬†very early on in a season which saw a lockout-shortened off season. That combined with the Offensive performance should¬†have¬†all Patriots very excited for this season!
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